Derek Stokes: Handcuffed in Patrol Car, Gets in Gun Fight with Officers
Handcuffed Man, Derek Stokes, In Patrol Car Gets in Gun Fight with Officers
Cleveland prosecutors have released the in-car video that shows the attempted murder of an officer by suspect Derek Stokes. Stokes pulled a handgun from the back seat of a park ranger’s patrol vehicle and began firing shots at officer; the incident occurred last December.
Prosecutors from Cuyahoga County released excerpts of video recordings from two patrol vehicles Tuesday after it was announced that the fatal shooting of Derek Stokes by two Cleveland Metroparks rangers was wholly justified. Stokes was killed in parking garage beneath Cleveland police headquarters, where the rangers planned to book him.
The incident began when Ranger McLellan conducted a vehicle stop for speeding; the vehicle was driven by Stokes. While verifying Stokes’ information, Ranger McLellan found out that Stokes had an outstanding felony warrant; a search of Stokes’ vehicle revealed heroin, crack cocaine and other drug paraphernalia.
Stokes was initially patted down and placed in the back of McLellan’s patrol. It is at that point that investigators think Stokes removed a hidden pistol from one of his boots and placed it beneath the back seat of the patrol vehicle. Stokes’ boots were removed and checked during a secondary body search, but by this point it was too late – Stokes had stashed the weapon and was planning his attack on Ranger McLellan.
In the video, when Ranger McLellan arrives at the police parking garage, you can see Stokes – who had secretly moved his hands in front of his body – force a handgun through a small gap in the plastic prisoner barrier. McLellan sees the firearm and quickly stops her patrol vehicle, slamming Stokes in the barrier. McLellan can be seen on Ranger Schultz’s dashboard camera exiting her patrol vehicle and the vehicle rolling away from her at a slow speed. At that point Stokes attempted to kill McLellan, pulling the trigger several times, although the weapon misfired. If you listen to the audio of the tape you can hear Stokes pull the slide back on the weapon, putting a new round in the chamber; investigators say the weapon misfired several times before Stokes finally got a shot off, striking McLellan in the shoulder-area of her vest.
The video clearly shows that Derek Stokes followed Ranger McLellan with his weapon, even after she bailed out of her vehicle and before she started returning fire. Stokes was clearly intent on murdering Ranger McLellan at that point.
Rangers McLellan and Schultz then began firing into McClellan’s patrol vehicle. The footage from McLellan’s car shows Stokes laying down in the seat, covering his head as glass and bullets fly around him.
As McLellan’s car rolls to a stop, Stokes can be heard yelling, “Kill me! Kill me, motherfuckers!” while he scrambled out of the back of the car, pointing his weapon at the rangers. The officers quickly returned fire, and Stokes fell to the garage floor, then got to his feet and tried to flee. Stokes eventually fell back to the ground.
Stokes began stirring again after he fell to the ground, and yelled, “I ain’t done yet,” as he began to stand back up. McLellan clearly states, “Get on the ground,” still giving Stokes a chance to give up despite his attempts to kill her, but Stokes refuses to comply. More shots are fired by the officers, at which point Stokes fell to the ground and remained there.
The Derek Stokes shooting was ruled to be justified, but I doubt that the Black Lives Matter crowd will be pleased with this ruling, I can’t think of a more clear-cut case of self-defense: The officer left the vehicle and the suspect continued to train his gun on her, firing with intent to kill the law enforcement officer; he also refused to obey commands that would have saved his life up. The officers had no choice but to neutralize the threat. Though our detractors may fail to see the lesson in this story – trying to kill police is likely to result in your own death – let us not let our own lesson pass us by:
1.) Frisk/search your prisoners and your car well and often
2.) Don’t put people in your car without searching them first, even if you intend to search them later.
3.) If/when the time comes for deadly force, don’t hesitate; our attackers surely will not, even when we give them a way out.
Stay safe out there, folks.